Whenever we ask, “What is love?” it’s usually because a) we’re unsure if a certain special someone really loves us, or b) because a certain special someone just accused us of not really loving them.
When we are truly engaged in giving and receiving love, we don’t ponder such philosophical questions. It’s only when something is lacking that we begin to analyze and contemplate what that thing actually is. For example, nobody sits down to a full meal and asks, “What is a pastrami sandwich?”
So, if we’re even asking the question, “What is love?” it probably means that we don’t feel completely loved, or that someone doesn’t feel completely loved by us.
Types of LoveTo set up the context for this exploration, let’s quickly define what’s going on here. Generally we hear love defined as either conditional or unconditional. Conditional love would be loving something based on a certain set of conditions being met. i.e. “I only love this person if they do this for me, if they don’t, then I don’t love them.”
Unconditional love would be more so “regardless of your choices and the fact that they may have caused me to experience painful emotions, I still love you because I recognize the purpose of our journey.” Note, this does not mean unconditional love means sacrificing, staying in unhealthy relationships or abuse etc. It simply means the feeling of love is always there. Like a mother or father loving their child.
Healthy Love Versus Unhealthy Love
Leaving the ideas of conditional and unconditional love aside for a moment, let’s look at two types of love.
Unhealthy love can be seen as giving up aspects of yourself simply to please someone that you might be with. It can also come when you depend on the other person or need them for your own happiness or joy. Unhealthy love can be addictive and keep you locked up in stagnant periods of life where you use this form of love to avoid moving past your own challenges. Simply, unhealthy love is more about what the mind’s idea of love is. It can often involve playing games, manipulation, sacrifice and so on, all of which you will notice is quite draining to do, yet you can’t let it go.
Healthy love is something that is mutual between two people and no one gives themselves up to experience it. It is based on a feeling within versus what’s going on on the outside. It’s about allowing your partner to go through their own experiences and not judge them. Support them and understand them regardless of if they may have triggered a button within you. Together, you are open, can communicate and grow. You don’t need each other but simply work as a team to move through life.
How To Experience Healthy Love
The bottom line is, whatever experience you are having now is totally fine. Why? Because even if it isn’t entirely what you want, it plays the role of showing you how you feel when you are outside of your soul’s desires. Accept the experience you have right now and thank it for showing you another color of life.
To transform your experience of love, look at the many facets of unhealthy love and see if any apply to you. If they do, reflect on each piece and find the source of why you feel it’s there. For example if you feel you are addicted to your partner or need them around, ask yourself why that is. Writing things down and reflecting on it or talking to a person with experience in moving past the challenge can also help.
In the end you are looking to find out why you are feeding that need for the other person (or whatever challenge is unique to you). It could be because you don’t feel complete within yourself. It could be because of a past pain or reluctance to put yourself out there. Whatever the case may be, as you reflect and become aware of it you understand more about yourself and in turn can choose to move beyond it and process those emotions.
There are other ways to identify the difference between unhealthy and healthy love, but these six contrasts provide some key distinctions.Love is exactly what sets us free. Just as are our bodies are created to heal physical wounds and broken bones, our souls are created to heal when we draw closer to the emotional equivalent — safe love — and away from fear and judgment.
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